Miss Manners: “Give Me My Stuff Back!!”

[I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the epitome of prim and proper- heck, who really is nowadays? But looking around at the misguided youths of today *ahem drinking buddies*, I’m starting to think that Miss Manners might have been onto something.

While you may never need to know how to greet a duke or how to tell which fork is REALLY the oyster fork, knowing how to deal with people whom owe you money, how much to tip, and how to address the ever annoying licorice-in-teeth conundrum without being rude might actually come in handy in the real world. I’m not trying to be your mother – oh goodness, no – I’m just here to help you out of those little etiquette dilemmas. So here goes: a quick lesson in etiquette. The sh*t you might actually need to know.]

So your friend borrowed your favorite sweater in Physics, promising she’d return it after class. But when the class let out, you were too busy copying notes to remind her to give it back. It’s been two months now, and all your subtle hints about how you really hate people who borrow stuff *ahem ahem* is getting you blank stares. You figure either she forgot about it… or she’s a bitch who’s playing dumb so she can keep your cute-and-perfect-for-all-seasons sweater.

What to do when the borrower just won’t give the damn thing back?

Miss Manners says:
First figure out how much the object is worth. Is a sweater/$5/a calculator/etc. worth potentially ruining your friendship over? If you can already tell that getting it back will be a struggle – perhaps one big enough to turn into a catfight – think of how much the object really means to you. If you figure it’s worth it, read on. If not, ask her one last time (outright. i.e. “Hey, remember that sweater I loaned to you forever ago? Do you think I could get it back?”) and if she refuses to budge, drop it, chalk it up as a birthday present and never let her borrow anything again.

Step 1: To be honest, the more time that passes, the more awkward it gets bringing up something that happened sooo long ago. Approach her (this usually works better if there are other people around – witnesses, you know) and ask “I know this was awhile ago, but would you happen to still have my sweater? Can you bring it to class next week?” Be direct but polite.

Step 2: If being direct is getting you nowhere, try lying. Yeah, I know lying is bad, but in terms of etiquette, small white lies are usually justifiable. Tell her you need the sweater/money for a party this weekend. Tell her you promised to lend it to your mother. Whatever it is, be sure to imply that you wouldn’t mind letting her hold on to it and of course it never crossed your mind that she wouldn’t give it back, but because of whatever urgent event coming up, you need it back.

Step 3: The [fake] party date passed and she still hasn’t returned it? At this point, she either lost it or she’s being downright rude. If she keeps making excuses, just outright ask her what the deal is. Don’t dance around the subject and don’t be afraid to be pushy; after all, she’s the one being rude, not you. Besides, what kind of friend is she if she refuses to return the stuff you lent her? Why would you want to surround yourself with people like that? You don’t have to be a bitch, but let her know that you want your stuff back and let her know that you mean it.

And if that still produces no results (which is a very rare case), walk away from it smarter. And one sweater short.
Lesson learned: Be careful about what you lend out.

You ever have a sitch like this? Give us the deets!

The Transfer Blues
The Transfer Blues
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